Colorado's two Democratic senators split votes on a failed effort in the U.S. Senate on Nov. 18 to move forward with construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Sixty votes were needed to pass the bill in order to prevent a …
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Sixty votes were needed to pass the bill in order to prevent a filibuster. The bill fell short by a single vote, 59-41.
Sen. Michael Bennet voted for the bill, while fellow Democratic Sen. Mark Udall voted no.
The bill sought to expand construction of an existing pipeline that would ship crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, cutting through six states.
The pipeline would not run through Colorado.
Supporters of the pipeline say there are very few risks associated with the project and argue that thousands of jobs would be created if President Obama moves forward with the effort.
Obama is waiting for the State Department to conclude its review to determine whether the pipeline is in the best interest of the country. The agency is holding off on submitting its findings until the outcome of a Nebraska Supreme Court case is known, which could affect the pipeline's route.
Opponents cite environmental concerns associated with project. The extraction of crude oil from oil sands would pump greater amounts of greenhouse gases into the air. Opponents also express concern over the potential impacts on underground water reserves, all for a project that would result in very few long-term jobs once the pipeline is completed, opponents argue.
Bennet joined 13 other Democrats in voting for the bill, just hours after protesters gathered outside his Washington office to voice their opposition to the legislation.
Bennet spokesman Adam Bozzi said through an emailed statement that although the senator voted for the bill, “He would prefer that instead of focusing our political debate on a narrow issue that we develop a broad and comprehensive energy strategy to reduce carbon pollution and support renewable energy.”
The effort received bipartisan support in the Senate, but all the bill opponents were Democrats. They included Sen. Mark Udall.
Udall had previously voted no on the bill in a Senate committee and wants to see the review process come to a completion before Congress takes action.
“Sen. Udall's position on the Keystone XL Pipeline has not changed,” Udall spokesman Mike Saccone said through an emailed statement. “He continues to believe Congress should not be injecting politics into the ongoing review.”
Area environmental groups hailed Democrats like Udall for thwarting the effort.
“As a nation we need to rise to the challenge of reducing carbon pollution and not advance projects, like the Keystone XL pipeline, which will continue to add to the threat of climate change,” said Pete Maysmith, executive director for Conservation Colorado.
But the bill's defeat does not mark the end of the pipeline expansion effort. Republicans will control both the House and the Senate beginning in January and it is expected that the new majority will continue to pressure the president on the issue.
And Udall will be among a handful of Democratic senators who will not be back next year to vote against the effort. Udall lost his re-election bid to current Congressman Cory Gardner, a Republican who calls the construction of the pipeline “long overdue.”
“The result of tonight's Senate vote is another example that some in Congress would rather play partisan political games instead of supporting a common sense project that would put thousands of Americans back to work,” Gardner said through an emailed statement.
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